We’ve all gotten used to tracking time with digital devices. So it’s easy to forget that centuries of timekeeping devices relied on neither mechanics nor electronics. Think about sundials, hourglasses, and water clocks.
In their newest project, Netherlands-based designers Studio Formafantasma put a 21st-century twist on analog timekeeping. It’s an installation created for the 10th anniversary of the London brand Established & Sons, intended to reflect on the passage of time. With their knack for transforming everyday household objects into art pieces, Formafantasma designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin created a series of number-less, analog clock-sculptures using saxophones, brass pendulums, discs of marble, and fans.
There’s a deconstructed clock, with no hands, made of white Carrara marble, split into a central and outer disc. A long, dark vein runs down the center of the clock’s facade, and as the central disc rotates, the vein plays the role of an hour hand, rotating 360 degrees over 60 minutes, aligning back with the rest of the vein on the hour.
There’s a metal frame equipped with two saxophones, which sound every 15 minutes to “announce and celebrate the experience of daily life as it evolves,” as the designers say in their artist statement. Not great for getting work done, but it’s a jazzy, sculptural take on the traditional incremental donging of a grandfather clock.
Another clock features a long brass rod with a small brush on its end, dangling from a horizontal beam. It swings like a pendulum, back and forth every second, and the brush sweeps a brass strip on the ground, incessantly polishing it to prevent oxidation.
The fourth clock in the series is a paper fan that gradually unfolds around a brass disc, expanding into full bloom every five minutes, before snapping back shut.
These clocks probably won’t help the chronically late get places on time, but they’re certainly more poetic than a few jagged red numbers on a screen or a pair of creeping hands around a disc.